I promised to tell you about the other time when I wanted to be in Witness Protection. The first one you read about, last week, when a man walked in on me in a restroom. There is, of course, waaaay more to it than that, and if you missed that post, you can read it here.
But today I’m going to tell you about the first time—far more excruciating--and wouldn’t you know it would involve St. Bob again (I’m beginning to assign blame, I think).
First, I must tell you that I was an LDS Relief Society President 20 years ago, in our local church congregation. The Relief Society is the oldest women’s organization in the U.S. and, in a nutshell, provides service. Like our unpaid clergy, everyone's a volunteer. Coincidentally I have this position now, as well, but this time I am on my guard.
And here’s why. One of my duties is to oversee a great program called Visiting Teaching. Sounds like personal tutors, right? But what we really do is assign each sister several others to visit each month, just to be a friend and make sure she’s okay. Is anyone sick? Unemployed? Depressed? Just needs a laugh or a meal or a spiritual uplift?
In short, we think of these women as our sisters and try to serve them. It’s actually pretty cool, because if it’s done right, nobody can fall through the cracks or feel forgotten. Even financial crises can be met.
Here the plot thickens a teensy bit, because every week changes have to be made. Someone moves in, someone moves out, someone calls and says, “I just got a job so I need to visit in the evenings, now,” etc. This means I am always juggling, always knocking dominoes to accommodate everyone’s situation. To help organize this mammoth undertaking, there’s a woman called the Visiting Teaching Coordinator who keeps records of visits and lets the various women know their assignments. And, needless to say, we are on the phone several times a week.
So 20 years ago, the woman with this job was a delightful gal with grown kids, named Frances Weaver. As a young mother, I looked up to her as the epitome of a successful mom. (I’ve changed her name because I am STILL too embarrassed to call her, and ask if I can use her real name. But it is not Frances Weaver.)
So one day I’m on the phone again with Frances, when the second line rings. I have a phone with hold buttons, so I tell Frances to hold on, and I take the call. It’s Bob, calling from work.
“Hey, you sexy, hot mama,” Bob says. “You wanna have a little party later tonight?"
I laugh and play back with him. “Ready when you are,” I say.
Then as Bob starts to describe his plans, I giggle and contribute to the conversation, shall we say.
AND THEN FRANCIS SAYS, “Excuse me, I’m still on the line. I thought I’d better speak up before this goes much further.”
And I want a meteor to hit my house and kill me dead that very instant. I gasp enough air to burst my lungs and then sputter, “Oh—oh—Francis! Uh… um… can I call you back?”
Francis is only too happy to get off the line and I stare at the buttons and realize I did not press the HOLD button, but the CONFERENCE button!
Aauugghh! And I tell Bob we have to list the house that very hour, move out of state, and change our names. I know three realtors I could call instantly.
Bob, of course, is laughing his head off. I am picturing Frances telling her husband about this and then word of it spreading through the entire congregation. I know there is no way I can ever face her again. I vent about this absolute humiliation and Bob says he has to get back to work. Now you know what game show hosts do when they go backstage. They call their wives who become hysterical panic buttons, then they say they have to get back to work.
That night he comes home and I am no calmer. In fact, I have thought of even more hideous repercussions. I will be the first person in history who actually did die of embarrassment. At my funeral people will be sharing what killed me and trying to keep a straight face, like those Darwin dopes who die in ridiculous ways, and then their friends have to keep from laughing when they share the news.
Bob listens to me, then finally says, “Hey, at least she knows we have a happy marriage.”
I stare at him. This is the good news? I want to pour a bucket of water on his head. However, I do not have such a bucket.
Bob continues chuckling. After all, it’s fine for a man to have a frisky reputation. But the Relief Society President? I can already feel the hives that will be creeping up my neck when I walk in on Sunday, and wonder who has heard about our conversation. My internal organs are tying themselves into little knots.
Did I survive it? Clearly. Was Frances a good sport who brushed it off to make me feel better? Yep. But I still say, if that isn’t justification for being in the Witness Protection Program, then I don’t know what is.
You really must read my books because they are filled with moments like these that will make your own embarrassing moments so much less painful.